As far as I'm concerned, mobile phones have always been social devices. They contain your address book and let you call people. That's pretty social. They are good for sending short text messages. That's social too. And they have built in cameras. Social again.
Now the INQ phone is claiming that it's the first social mobile. It looks like a mobile with a bunch of "social" apps. Not a bad idea mind you. And it seems like they have done a pretty good job at integrating with services like Facebook, MSN messenger and Skype.
How is this more than an iPhone with some apps on it? I'm going to have to get my hands on one soon to find out.
Meanwhile, the idea of a phone with truly integrated communications and sharing apps where messages from a bunch of different services show up in my inbox and my address book is "live" and shows status updates is neat.
What this points to is that the social handset games have started. It makes all the sense in the world that these "mission critical" personal devices become tightly coupled with all our favorite social utilities. To borrow from Nokia, these devices are all about "connecting people". Are we witnessing the beginning of connecting people 2.0?
Interesting question is whether we will just see a bunch of new onramps for Facebook and Twitter, or whether new models for connecting and communicating will evolve.